SPARTA, NJ – Several special awards were announced at the Sparta High School Underclass Awards ceremony on June 7.  In addition to the department awards announced for each grade, Guidance Director Kacey Dalton presented several juniors with honors they had earned from organizations outside of the school.

The Guidance Department awards went to 9th grade Maxwell Rivielle, 10th grade Grace Sanders and 11th grade Katie McGuckin.

Rivielle’s counselor Tim Librizzi said, “Max is a great kid who is constantly trying to improve.  He asks questions when he needs information and has a really cool personality.”

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Sander’s counselor Jenna Valleau said “Grace has an A- average.  Grace is a problem solver and collaborator who rarely gives up.  I am proud of the positive changes she has made this year.”

McGuckin’s counselor Tony Lombardo said, “Katie is a conscientious student.  She ahs worked diligently and is a strong self-advocate.  She is involved in a number of extracurricular clubs and activities, her favorite being the visual arts.”

The Dwight D Eisenhower Leadership award is given to a student who “demonstrates outstanding performance in the area of academics, athletics, community service, good citizenship and leadership. In addition to the plaque and letter of recognition the student, her family and guidance counselor are invited to West Point for a Leadership Awards Recognition Day.”

Dalton announced Bayleigh Takacs as the award winner.  She said, “Bayleigh is a leader among her peers.  She has been secretary of her class for three years, captain of her volleyball and lacrosse team.  She does community service with Pass it Along and the Sparta Polcie Department.”

The Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership award was announced next.  Dalton explained the “HOBY is a non-profit organization committed to inspiring and developing our global community of youth and volunteers dedicated to leadership, service and innovation.”  The award is given to a sophomore.

Benjamin Hyland was selected.  “As a future surgeon, Ben has had the unique opportunity to volunteer overseas in all aspects of medical care.  In 2016 he observed and participated in surgical procedures during his medical mission to the Philippines.” He returned for a second mission in 2017 after receiving recognition as a global volunteer by the Society of Filipino Surgeons.

The Governor’s School in the Sciences was awarded to Alexandra Poret.  It is a residential summer program for high school students for a “hands-on experience” with other students who share their love for engineering and technology.  “Poret was awarded ‘Kid of Science Advisor’ by the Obama administration, traveling to Washington DC to meet with other young scientists and the former president.  Alex is currently ranked first in her class with a GPA of 4.78.”

Poret was also awarded the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Medal.  The award is given to a junior in the top 10 percent of the class who excels in math and science.  The award guarantees a scholarship worth a minimum of $25,000 for four years if she enrolls in Rensselaer. 

The National Merit Scholarship Qualifiers were announced next.  Dalton explained they are juniors who have scored among the top 50,000 of the 1.5 million students who took the PSTAs.

Poret, Audrey Biss and Soumya Duggerila. 

Dalton said Suggarila “is one of the top ten students in the Class of 2018.”  She is a strong student in computer science and “an accomplished musician.”  She is a member of the Robotics and Science League teams, Coral Reef Ecosystem Research  Project and Biodiesel club. 

Biss is also a top ten student.  She is “an all-around academically talented student but her passion for the natural sciences is apparent.”  Biss is part of the Coral Reef Ecosystem project, Biodiesel Club, Science League and Women in Science Fields club.

Duggerila was asked to remain at the podium for the next award.  Dalton announced the Rochester Institute of Technology awards to students in two different areas.

First the Computing Medal Award, given to Duggirala and Benjamin Dottinger for having “distinguished themselves academically, being active and involved members of their school community and demonstrated interest and ability in computing.

Dottinger is ranked in the top 10 of the class of 2018 “and has shown excellence in Computer Programming.  His strong academic knowledge is matched only by his exemplary leadership and talent in the music department, not to mention his sense of style.”

The second RIT award is the Innovation and Creativity Award recognizing outstanding achievement in innovation, creativity or entrepreneurship.  Melissa Nolan and James Apostolico were called to accept their awards by Dalton.

Nolan “is an outstanding student who is currently in the top 10 of her class, excelling in all subject areas.  She especially enjoys Physics, French and piano.  She is an active member of the National Honor Society, String and French clubs and Science League as well as the Tank team responsible for our beautiful aquariums.”

Dalton introduced Apostolico saying he is “described as a leader; the lead researcher for this year’s debate team.  His interests are in technology and science, maintaining a 4.2 GPA.  He is also varsity captain of the golf team and member of Future Business Leaders of America, National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society.  He plans to attend a service academy after Sparta High School.”

Each year Sparta High School has students nominated to attend American Legion Boys State and American Legion Girls StateApostolico and Hannah Fagersten will join junior high school students from around the New Jersey this summer.  They will take on leadership roles in a mythical 51 state to learn about governing first hand. From Governor and Senator to Tax Collector and Post Master, the students are assigned an selected to their positions.

Boys State will be held at Rider University and feature speakers Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and U.S. Representative Leonard Lance and former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman.   Guadagno will also be the featured speaker at Girls State closing ceremonies.

Dalton said of Fagersten, “Hannah is a hard working student who enjoys the study of government and politics, enrolled in AP classes in History and American Government.”

Mia Pulido received the New Jersey Scholars award that offers a tuition free fie week program to 39 high achieving juniors. 

“Mia is a strong AP student who has demonstrated excellent analytical skills in the classroom and had a strong and vested interest in History and the humanities,” Dalton said.  Pulido is in the top 10 percent of her class, currently enrolled in three AP classes.

Pulido was asked to remain at the podium as she was named National Hispanic Recognition Qualifiers,  based on having received a PSAT score in the top two and a half percent of Latino and Hispanic test takers in our region. 

Athletic Director Steve Stoner announced three sport varsity athlete Paige Smith as the Scholar Athlete for 2017.  Smith, a member of the class of 2018 has been a stand-out player in volleyball, basketball and especially on the mound for the 14-8 softball team.

The final award brought Ferraro back to the podium for the Principal’s Award.  Ferraro announced Steven Sullivan as an “all around great student, well-liked by students and staff.” He is a member of several Honor Societies, volunteers in “too many organizations to mention, teaches in the Summer Arts program and always has a big smile.” Ferraro said he is going to be on the 2017 -2018 Executive Board of the Student Council as the vice president.  She added “he plans to study education,” hoping he one day returns to Sparta High School as a teacher.”

In closing Ferraro spoke directly to the students. “You have heard what your teachers have said about you.  Hang onto that for a lifetime.”